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Big Blackfish Have Arrived On Cape Cod

Steve Kwietniak

Member since 2015

I arrived at the dock at 5:45 as my fellow MFCC crew members were strolling toward Capt. Cullen’s boat. I also saw Ryan getting ready to launch his kayak. He wouldn’t be joining us today, but it was good seeing him after a long winter.

After the customary greetings, all were on board and our Tautog trip began. 

We cleared the dock and went full throttle into the early morning mist. The cool temperatures of early May on Cape Cod were evident as everyone pulled up their hoods and bundled up tight in the 40-degree temps. With wind and sea spray stinging our faces, Cullen guided the boat to his chosen spot.


Tautog Fishing | May 3rd

We reached our destination quick enough. We were soon idling over rock structure. Cullen made a few loops to make sure we were right where he wanted to be. We would soon find out that we were right over the fish.

Cullen got the craft precisely situated and lowered the anchor. We would not be drifting this trip – rather we would hold fast, right over the rocky bottom.

Cullen grabbed the crabs and went over the technique for catching tautog. You can watch the technique in action in this tutorial video.

If you have seen the Tautog videos here on MFCC, then you will understand the technique. Cullen, apparently having fished for Tog about a 1000 times, followed the what you will see in the video to the letter. 

We all went to work while Cullen continued to prep the crabs for us to re-bait as needed. Cullen made one last reminder. “When you get the bump – get right on these guys. Set your hook quick.”

And with that we were fishing.

Big Blackfish Paving The Bottom

Literally about 2 minutes in and I had a quick little "bump bump bump" on my braided line. I set the hook and had a bit of weight on the end. I reeled up my line and had a tiny Tog snagged by the tail. It was not the monster Tog we hoped for – but the fish were there.

Then then big ones started showing up..

The author with a "monster tog" caught during the Friday May 3 tautog group trip.

Another 5 minutes or so and the rest of the crew started reeling them in. "Bump bump bump" – we would set the hook set and enjoy a great fight to the surface.

Of course we did miss some fish, because blackfish are challenging to hook. But with some practice and feel, the whole crew soon began catching consistently for the next 2 hours. 

MFCC member Aaron Permlutter with a solid blackfish (tautog).

However, a few of the guys were consistently missing the hook set. Further inspection showed the hooks had gotten bent from fighting the big fish. Cullen returned them to shape and their hook set ratio improved tremendously.

When the bite would slow, Cullen would reposition the boat slightly – and the catch would continue.

MFCC member Richard Walker is all smiles with this nice one!

We caught some monster Blackfish, mixed in with other good size fish. The action was constant, the fights were great, and I had so much fun. What a great trip this was turning out to be!

The boat maxed out it’s limit of 3 tautog of at least 16 inches per angler relatively quickly. We would all be taking home some delicious Tautog for dinner.

Schoolie Stripers On The Way Back To The Dock

Anchored up over our spot – we caught Tautog, Sea Bass and a couple of Scup. After a few hours of consistent bites, Cullen checked with the crew to see if we were interested in trying for some Striped Bass on the way back in. 

The mutual opinion among the crew was an enthusiastic “Absolutely!” So lines were brought up, and off we went.  

It wasn’t long at all before spotting the birds working over the numerous blitzes spread throughout the area.  

Cullen picked a tight grouping of birds, re-rigged the poles with soft plastic lures, and we were fishing again. Cullen reminded us to “watch our back casts" - because with 6 guys on the boat, no one wants to get hooked.

Again we were quick to get on the fish. On my second cast I was reeling in my first Striper of the season. It was just a small schoolie but still lots of fun. The rest of the crew followed suit, all catching stripers of their own (no keepers).

We hit a few more spots and Cullen kept us on the birds and the blitz. The fish were getting more finicky and our time on the trip was coming to an end.  

As Cullen filleted the last of the Tautog (thank you Cullen for filleting all those fish!) we drifted through one last mass of Stripers. Fish were all around us and we all hooked up at least one more time before Cullen called for lines in and we headed back to the marina.

In Conclusion

Big thank you to Capt. Cullen and to Ryan for putting these group fishing trips together. They are a very rare opportunity to experience some of the best fishing opportunities on Cape Cod.    

I have been on several MFCC group trips with Cullen, targeting Stripers, Sea Bass, False Albacore, and now Tautog. Every trip has been successful and unique.  

I know there are never guarantees with fishing, but your luck increases dramatically when fishing with such an experienced guide.

I look forward to next time.  Cullen – I will see you on the May 31st Black Sea Bass trip!

Tight lines 🎣

Steve Kwietniak

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  1. Great reading and even better information. Thanks !
    Tight lines !


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